Tag: senior citizen college graduates

Ella Washington, 89, Earns College Degree from Liberty University

Liberty University graduate Ella Washington (photo via liberty.edu)

via liberty.edu

While putting her 12 children through school and working full time to provide for her family, Ella Washington, 89, never abandoned her goal to continue her education. On Saturday, she walked across the stage at Liberty University’s commencement as the oldest graduate in the Class of 2018, earning her associate degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Washington grew up in rural North Carolina during the 1930s, when education came second to working on the family farm. She dropped out of school in the sixth grade. But when she got married and had children of her own, she wanted more for them.

“She has always been a lifelong learner,” said Washington’s daughter Ellen Mitchell. “Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school, just as her grandmother taught her and her siblings.”

Thanks to her faith in God and her perseverance, Washington enrolled in an adult education program and earned her GED diploma in 1978 at age 49. She had always wanted to go to college, however. In 2012, she enrolled in Liberty’s online program after a recommendation from Mitchell. “Liberty is a great university,” Washington said. “I would recommend Liberty to anyone because I did well.”

But she isn’t stopping at her associate degree; she is already working toward a bachelor’s degree in history at Liberty. “To me, history is a great subject,” she said. “Everybody should know their history and learn more about it. A lot of people don’t know much about history. There’s nothing wrong with learning more.”

She moved to Washington, D.C., as a young mother and had a variety of jobs, ranging from a custodian at the Pentagon to an office assistant to a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare. She was still working up until about six years ago. “Coming to D.C., there weren’t many opportunities for a poorly educated black woman,” Mitchell said. “But she worked hard doing whatever she could to make sure we were taken care of.”

Mitchell said it was her mother’s drive to better herself that has always inspired her children, who also worked to make education a priority in their lives. “My mother is a remarkable woman,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to be strong because of her example. Now, she has set the bar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Washington said her advice to her fellow Class of 2018 graduates would be to keep their sights set on using their education to the fullest.

“Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you,” she said.

Source: https://www.liberty.edu/news/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=277995

72-Year-Old Darlene Mullins Finishes College With Honors After 55 Years

72 year-old college graduate Darlene Mullins (photo via huffpost.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

It’s never too late to go back to school.

Just ask 72-year-old Darlene Mullins, who recently graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. The grandmother of four walked at the school’s commencement Saturday.

Darlene left school nearly 55 years ago in the name of love. She was a track star at the historically black college and met her husband-to-be, John Mullins, in 1962, she told USA Today. “I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus,” Darlene told the HBCU’s campus magazine in 2014. The duo knew they would marry each other the moment they met and began dating shortly after. But Darlene’s track coach noticed that she was spending most of her time with her boyfriend. Her coach gave Darlene, who was training to go to the 1964 Olympics, an ultimatum: the track team or John. Darlene chose John.

She finished her freshman year with 25 credits and married John in 1963. Her husband graduated in 1964 and began working. Darlene took care of the household and was a stay-at-home mother to their son and daughter. The family lived in six states over the years, due to John’s successful career in business. Darlene told the campus outlet that she eventually began a career in retail and cosmetology as their children grew older.

Though she remained busy, she always longed to finish school. That feeling intensified when the couple would visit the HBCU for homecomings and other celebrations.“Something kept nagging at me,” she said. “I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice.”

To read full article, go to: 72-Year-Old Finishes College With Honors After 55 Years, Inspires Us All | HuffPost

David Norman, a 67 Year-Old Ex-Convict, Graduates from Columbia University

David Norman, a 67-year-old ex-con, celebrates his graduation from Columbia.
David Norman (photo via nydailynews.com)

article by Rich Schapiro via nydailynews.com

After 67 years, two prison stints and so many arrests he’s lost count, David Norman, a former Harlem drug dealer, graduated from Columbia University as the oldest member of his class.

Norman shed his dark past for a cap and gown Wednesday after earning his long-awaited bachelor’s degree in philosophy.  “It’s always possible to pursue your dreams,” Norman told the Daily News.

Norman’s extraordinary journey from the gritty streets of Harlem to the gleaming lawns at Columbia was studded with obstacles.  His decades-old battle with substance abuse began early.  Norman was drinking by age 11 and using heroin before his 15th birthday.  His high school education lasted all of one day.  Norman turned into a street hustler, slinging dope to satisfy his drug cravings.  “I had a 35-year run with addiction,” he said.

Norman racked up a mile-long rap sheet filled with arrests for robbery and drug trafficking.  His first stint upstate came in 1967. Nearly three decades later, he was charged with manslaughter after fatally stabbing a man in a street fight.  The six years he spent in Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate Rome proved life-changing.

He found joy in books. He started learning Hebrew. And he helped run a program that taught life skills to inmates preparing to return to society.  “I had a moment of clarity in which I was able to recognize everything I had done at that point was fairly counter-productive and I needed to engage in some new activities and some new behaviors,” Norman said.

He walked out of prison in 2000 a changed man, eager to devote the second half of his life to raising up the most vulnerable.

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